CANTEEN and kiosk operators have a role to play in improving the nation’s health by giving their menus a healthy overhaul.
Diabetes Research WA executive director Sherl Westlund said examples out of Victoria showed junk foods can be removed from community outlets without a negative impact on sales.
“Gathering places like schools, public swimming pools, gyms and recreation centres are ideal places to showcase the benefits of a healthy diet and support people to make better food choices,” she said.
“Many families tell us when they take their kids to healthy activities like swimming, netball and football and the like they’re constantly bombarded by ads for ice-creams, chips, chocolate and other junk foods.”
She said parents could say no to younger children, but generations of kids were getting the wrong message.
“Places like Lara Pool in Geelong have proved that taking all ‘red’ or unhealthy foods off their menus hasn’t affected the per person spend at their kiosks,” she said.
The healthy change at Lara Pool saw customers eat 72 percent less saturated fat.
Ms Westlund, who lives in Helena Valley, said type 2 diabetes was a complex condition, however research showed a healthy diet and weight teamed with physical fitness helped to avoid up to two in three cases.
“With one in four Australian children and two in three Australian adults overweight or obese, we need to be looking at all ways to support people to stay healthy, so it’s encouraging to see places like the YMCA in Victoria removing all sugary drinks from their centres,” she said.
She called on private and public outlets in WA to lead the way in reducing rising rates of type 2 diabetes by introducing changes in National Diabetes Week (July 8-14).
According to Obesity Australia, in 2011-12 the annual cost of excess weight was about $8.6 billion in direct and indirect costs including GP services, hospital care and absenteeism.
Diabetes Research WA will host a free Explore Diabetes Expo on July 11 in Wembley.
The event will feature updates from local researchers including renal physician Dr Aron Chakera who will discuss post-transplant diabetes.
CSIRO’s Professor Yogi Kanagasingam will talk about advances in screening for diabetes-related eye disease.
To reserve a place, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 9224 1006.